Naples, 19 September. (Labitalia) – Taking back a piece of history of a territory that has been lost over time. And, why not, launch a professional figure who can represent an opportunity for the entire catering sector. Thus was born the first level course for ‘Physical Oyster’ which will start tomorrow, 20 September, organized by Aiost – Italian Oyster Association, with lessons to be held in the training rooms of the Zooprophylactic Institute of Southern Italy in Portici (Na). and in the Rione terra di Pozzuoli (Na), thanks to a memorandum of understanding with the ISZM and the moral patronage of the Municipality of Pozzuoli.
A leap back in time, to when oyster farming thrived in the Campi Flegrei, over two thousand years ago. Or at the time of the Bourbons, who were so fond of these molluscs that they ‘invented’ an ‘ad hoc’ professional figure. And the course aims precisely to create a professional figure who is a 360-degree expert on oysters, as Alessio Cutino, restaurant manager, one of the founders of Aiost, of which he is vice president, and promoters of the course for ‘Oyster fish’, explains to Adnkronos/Labitalia. physicist’.
“The association, which is a non-profit, was born from me and two restaurateurs from Campania, Daniele and Simone Testa. It all starts from our passion and the curiosity, generated in the workplace, of knowledge of this product. And, so, in time, we went looking for information, even on the web, to deepen our personal culture and put them at the service, especially with regards to Daniele and Simone, of their restaurant”, he explains.
“And so – he continues – the desire to spread this culture of quality oysters was born, which has been lost over time. Also because over two thousand years ago, in Roman times, right here in the Campi Flegrei, an entrepreneur, Sergio Orata, developed intensive oyster farming in Lake Lucrino. Farming which then also spread to Lake Fusaro. A tradition which was then lost over time, also due to morphological changes to the land, with eruptions and more”, he says.
Long gone times because today oyster production in Italy is minimal. “Today, oysters in Italy are mainly farmed in Sardinia, where there is the greatest quantity of production. Then there is also a small part of production in Liguria and for some years in Puglia. A minimal production compared, for example, to France where we have thousands of farms. This is due to many factors: first of all, the VAT on oysters in Italy is 22% while in France it is the same as the baguette, essentially a higher consumption”, explains Cutino.
Starting from here, the objective of Cutino and his associates is clear. “Our objective is to create an oyster culture in Italy, but above all to create the figure of the ‘physical oysterman’ which recalls the one present in Naples in the Bourbon era, who was a bit like the fishmonger expert in serving oysters, a title that was coined by King Ferdinand II, a shellfish enthusiast, after trying an oyster from Lake Fusaro. We therefore intend to train the figure of the physical Oysterman who is a 360 degree figure, new in the world of catering, expert not only in the oyster but in everything to be served raw in the restaurant”, he adds.
The course, foreseen with a maximum of 35 participants, leaves nothing to chance, with a team of research biologists, historians, university professors, aquaculturists, oyster farmers, consortia. “We therefore take a course through three training levels: first – explains Cutino – we touch on the history, and then we get to the health aspect, and then the conservation and administration of the mollusc. And then the various production areas, how many types of There are farms, what happens inside the farm, how we get to this product rather than another, and what are the characteristics of the territories in which the oyster is farmed at a European level. To then get into the technical, going to define an oyster menu, with all the characteristics”, he explains.
A role, that of the physical oysterman, which can become key in the development of a restaurant business. “He can work alongside the restaurateur, in the dining room or in the kitchen, given that it is a fairly ambivalent role, it can apply both to the chef or to those who work in the dining room”.
The final goal is to ‘give birth’ to an oyster culture in our country. “Today there is a lack of knowledge about the product. Tasting an oyster, which is what we teach to do, is similar to tasting a glass of wine. So perhaps many don’t imagine something like this, because we have been used to over time to the ceremonial oyster, of poor quality, with a gigantic shell and a very small fruit”, he says.
But the wind is changing and the share of those looking for quality is growing. “The special oyster is increasingly appreciated, meatier and with a percentage of meat compared to the shell of 12% to 14%”, she observes.
And during the course the central theme will be attention to health protection. “If an oyster that is not good is administered – Cutino warns – it obviously has immediate consequences for health, compared to wine for example. There is therefore a theme of health protection, which we address through collaboration with the Zooprophylactic Institute, defining the characteristics necessary to be a quality oyster, and the defects and pathologies of the oyster which can lead to health consequences. Which, by the way, are also smaller than other bivalve molluscs such as mussels and others. The oyster is always bred where there is a promiscuity of fresh and salt water therefore the most serious pathologies and bacteria tend to develop in both salt and fresh water environments”, he points out .
In addition to the course, there remains another dream for Aiost. “We would like one day for oysters to return to being cultivated in Campania. That there should therefore be a project, and I do not rule out the possibility that there is, for the return of oysters to the Campi Flegrei. It is a piece of history, and also of business, that we missed,” he concludes.